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Class 1 Notes

Page history last edited by Alan Liu 11 years, 11 months ago
Preliminary Class Business


  • Enrollment / Sign-up sheet / auditors (project and short assignments)
  • Texts for course
  • Course log-in for protected materials
  • Course site: http://english236s2012.pbworks.com
    • Printing from the site: "PDF Version" at bottom right of each page 
  • To-Do for Next Class: create your class bio

Course Structure and Assignments



Course Rationale


❦ Interdisciplinary Rationale


Disciplinary Rationale: From Close Reading to "Distant Reading"


John Crowe Ransom, "Criticism, Inc." (1937)
    "It is strange, but nobody seems to have told us what exactly is the proper business of criticism. There are many critics who might tell us, but for the most part they are amateurs. So have the critics nearly always been amateurs; including the best ones. They have not been trained to criticism so much as they have simply undertaken a job for which no specific qualifications were required. It is far too likely that what they call criticism when they produce it is not the real thing. . . .
        Rather than occasional criticism by amateurs, I should think the whole enterprise might be seriously taken in hand by professionals. Perhaps I use a distasteful figure, but I have the idea that what we need is Criticism, Inc., or Criticism, Ltd."

Katherine Hayles, "How We Read: Close, Hyper, Machine," ADE Bulletin, no. 150 (2010):
    "To explore why this should be so and open possibilities for synergistic interactions, I begin by revisiting that sacred icon of literary studies, close reading. When literary studies expanded its purview in the 1970s and 1980s, it turned to reading many different kinds of “texts,” from Donald Duck to fashion clothing, television programs to prison architecture (see Scholes). This expansion into diverse textual realms meant that literature was no longer the de facto center of the field. Faced with the loss of this traditional center, literary scholars found a replacement in close reading, the one thing virtually all literary scholars know how to do well and agree is important. Close reading then assumed a preeminent role as the essence of the disciplinary identity."


  • What is "Close Reading"?
  • What is "Distant Reading"?



 Generations of  Digital Humanities (some data points):


"Humanities Computing"--

  • Roberto Busa, S.J. (and associates), Index Thomisticus (begun in 1946; web edition in 2005 by Eduardo Bernot and Enrique Alarcón)


  • Computational Linguistics and Text Analysis (roots of ALLC, ACH, and TEI)
    --from ALLC Mission Statement: "The Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing was founded in 1973 with the purpose of supporting the application of computing in the study of language and literature. As the range of available and relevant computing techniques in the humanities has increased, the interests of the Association's members have necessarily broadened, to encompass not only text analysis and language corpora, but also history, art history, music, manuscript studies, image processing and electronic editions."


  • Jerome J. McGann, "Literary Scholarship in the Digital Future," The Chronicle Review [Chronicle of Higher Education], 49.16 (13 Dec. 2002): B7

  • [Cf. philological and textual-editing traditions descended from the 19th century--e.g., the OED] [image]

  • Unassimilated or incompletely assimilated contemporaneous approaches: hypertext theory, electronic literature, new media studies, network critique


"Digital Humanities"--


The Turn Toward "Big Data":


Methods of "Big Data":

  • "Distant Reading"
    • Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees (Verso, 2005), pp. 1-4
  • "Deformance" Reading
  • Non-Hermeneutic (Non-Interpretive) Reading
    • Friedrich A. Kittler, Discourse Networks, 1800/1900, trans. Michael Metteer with Chris Cullens (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990) (orig. pub. in German in 1985 as Aufscreibesysteme)
    • Friedrich A. Kittler, "There Is No Software," CTheory (Oct. 10, 1995): "In principle, this kind of descent from software to hardware, from higher to lower levels of observation, could be continued over more and more decades. All code operations, despite their metaphoric faculties such as "call" or "return", come down to absolutely local string manipulations and that is, I am afraid, to signifiers of voltage differences."




Typical trajectory of current digital humanities projects:

    1. Harvesting or sampling of data points in literary or other works
    2. Storage and manipulation of data points in a database
    3. Pattern recognition through text analysis, topic modeling, etc.
    4. Visualization
    5. (Re)presentation or remediation in digital form
      • Online
      • Interactive


Unassimilated or incompletely assimilated contemporaneous approaches: new media studies, network critique, media archaeology 








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